Thinking of taking a beach vacation to Cancun, Mexico, but aren’t sure if it’s a safe choice for you or your family? In this article, we’re exploring the relative safety level of Cancun and ways you can stay alert and safe.
In general, Cancun is safe for tourists due to government control of the tourist industry and an abundance of reputable hotels and resorts for Americans to stay at. That said, you should still keep your wits about you when there, making sure to plan your itinerary ahead of time, keep your money safe, and take other precautions.
Keep reading as we explore 14 of our best Cancun safety tips for travelers. You’ll need every bit of advice before you jet-set to this sunny locale.
Is Cancun Safe In General?
Lucky for travelers, Cancun is one of the safer areas to visit in Mexico because of the rise in the tourism industry there. A combination of national government efforts and relatively low crime rates compared to other Mexican cities makes Cancun a fairly safe Mexican travel destination.
But don’t let these numbers fool you, as crimes do occur there (yes, even murders, hundreds of them). Drug activity is also still common throughout Mexico, as well as violent crimes, pickpocketing, scamming, and more.
What’s more, is that the United States has issued Travel Safety Warnings for Americans who plan to visit the city. So, you can still take measures to protect yourself and your family or fellow travelers when you stay in Cancun, Mexico.
14 Cancun Safety Tips
Below, we’re exploring the following 14 tips that help to keep you and your family safe when you visit or plan a trip to Cancun, Mexico.
1. Protect Yourself Against Pickpockets
This may seem an obvious suggestion, but knowing how to avoid pickpockets is key in Mexico. Whether you’re at your hotel or downtown in Cancun, protect your belongings on your person by doing the following:
- Never put valuables (such as your phone, money, credit cards, IDs, or passports) in visible pockets of your clothing.
- Keep your money close to your body (you can use devices such as money belts for this).
- Keep your cash and valuables in the innermost storage areas of your handbag.
- Avoid getting swept up in thick crowds on the streets and in transport locales.
2. Keep Your Wits About You
Don’t get so drunk that you aren’t self-aware in Mexico. While Cancun is a big party destination, especially for college Spring Breakers, being intoxicated makes you instantly less safe than you would be sober.
More to read: Where is the party zone in Cancun?
It can make you feel warm when you’re chilly (you wouldn’t want to catch a cold on vacation). It also lowers your inhibitions, making it easier for you to say yes to things and people that you should avoid in a foreign city.
3. Always Keep Your Phone Charged
Having a mobile phone is like having a lifeline in today’s day and age. In Cancun, always fully charge your phone before you leave your place of lodging. You can extend its battery life by turning off background apps, turning on “Low Battery Mode,” and make sure that Bluetooth is turned off when not in use.
Additionally, you can purchase a portable phone charger if you find yourself in need of communication with a dead phone battery.
Related article you should read: Will my Phone work in Mexico? – Things to Know!
4. Protect Yourself From Bug Bites
The risk of mosquito bites in Cancun is all too real. And with mosquito bites comes the risk of diseases like dengue, Zika virus, and Chikungunya.
Make sure to carry mosquito repellent on your person and use it when you spend time outdoors in Cancun.
Here are some you can use: Travel Size Mosquito Repellent Spray
Read more on mosquitos in our Tulum article. It´s highly relevant for Cancun: Does Tulum Have Mosquitoes?
5. Plan Your Day Ahead
Having a plan, and even a backup plan, can help you to stay self-aware. If you know what form of transit you’re going to take and have looked at a map of the general area before going to it, you’re better off.
Make sure you don’t wander off the beaten path much and stick to your plan, even if it does mean compromising a bit of the adventure aspect.
6. Always Go In Pairs/Groups
Unless you are a solo traveler, it’s safer not to wander anywhere in Cancun alone, especially on the streets. You are more susceptible to being blindsided by crimes such as abduction or theft if you head to a restaurant bathroom by yourself.
It helps to pick a “buddy” on your trip, and plan to always link up with that person if you need to make a detour.
7. Screenshot Your Maps
GPS is one of the handiest tools on our mobile devices, but it only works if the connection is available. To avoid situations where you’re stranded without readily available walking or transit directions, look up maps of the areas you plan to visit ahead of time.
Zoom in on those maps to see the names of streets and cross-streets, and screenshot them to save to your phone.
8. Stay Close to Your Resort/Hotel
Chances are, if you’ve booked a reputable accommodation in Cancun, it’s either going to be at a well-known resort or an international hotel. Staying on the grounds of your lodging is one of the safest moves you can make, although most people will also want to see a bit of the local culture.
At your lodging locale, you’re less likely to get robbed, scammed, or caught up in a sticky situation.
9. Always Have Identification
Having an ID on your person, especially in a foreign country, is a must for all travelers. Not only should you carry your American photo ID (such as a driver’s license) in a safe spot everywhere you go, but you should also have your passport at all times.
Should a Mexican police officer ask you to show your ID, which can happen, they’ll likely want to see your passport.
10. Learn Some Spanish
One of the best tips for traveling abroad, hands down, is to learn some of the local languages. If you plan to venture into town at all, you should at least know the basics (i.e., hello, goodbye, please, thank you) as well as the words for “transportation,” “food,” etc.
It’s easy enough to learn a bit of daily Spanish on your mobile phone with apps like Duolingo, which are free for basic memberships.
Knowing Spanish might even protect you from scammers who think they are fooling you via the translation divide.
11. Use a Reputable Travel Agent
Travel agencies are nearly a thing of the past at this point. But there are some that still exist and provide invaluable services to tourists traveling abroad.
By going to a reputable travel agent to book your accommodations and tour activities in Cancun, you can rest assured that you are increasing your safety. You may have to pay a bit more than you would online, but it’s worth it.
12. Don’t Be Too Obvious
It’s a good rule of thumb not to appear naive in a new place. Locals can easily spot a confused tourist and turn you into a vulnerable target within seconds. This means you shouldn’t dress in luxurious clothes or carry expensive valuables in plain sight.
You should also avoid going up to every stranger you see and asking for help or directions, let alone in English. Play it cool as much as you can so that you blend in.
13. Drink Sealed Bottled Water
You never know what might be floating in local water sources, whether you’re drinking from a fountain or restaurant tap. To maintain your physical safety and health, always request bottled water from establishments. Knowing that the water is in a sealed container ensures that it has been filtered and is clean.
You might want to check out these amazing water filter bottles that remove tap water impurities (perfect for both at home and on vacation). Check them out here: Water Filter Bottles.
If you’re staying in a hotel, you might even be able to stock up on bottled water from a vending machine or convenience store before you depart your room for the day.
Read more about tap water in Mexico here: Can You Drink Tap Water in Playa del Carmen?
14. Don’t Carry All Your Cash
If you put all of your eggs into one basket, and something happens to that basket, then something happens to all of your eggs. Case in point – don’t put all of your cash in your wallet when you roam around Cancun.
Instead, bring enough for the day’s events and a bit for emergencies. You can leave the rest safely secured in your hotel’s safe.
Read this for how to get cash in Mexico: Best Way to Get Mexican Pesos.
So, is Cancun safe? Tourists will be relieved that Cancun is one of the safer travel destinations in Mexico. Because it has a well-established tourist industry, you can expect the crime rate to be lower than what you’ll find in other Mexican cities.
Still, you should take precautions before visiting Cancun, and remember to follow the advice listed above!